Time and the Leijiverse Part VI (Underdetermination)
Back in February, my latest installment of “Time and the Leijiverse” ended in total failure: I couldn’t come up with a single, simple theory with the necessary explanatory firepower. So I renewed my quest to find Miraizer Ban, Matsumoto’s manga meditation on the issue of Time. I found it, I read it, and I summarized the whole thing for the curious (summaries here).
Now the big question is: how does Miraizer Ban square in with my speculations?? The short answer is that the manga does agree well with Parts I, II and III of my “Time and the Leijiverse”. Part IV is contradicted by the story (see below under #3) and as for Part V, well, that blew up in my face as I wrote it, so there’s no question it’s unworkable.
The long answer can actually be summed up in a short sentence: the evidence from Miraizer Ban is such that any theory on Time in the Leijiverse will be undetermined. Essentially, Matsumoto’s universe admits of such variation that any grand theory becomes a shot in the dark [maybe our own universe is like this?!]
There are three enormous factors for this fundamental underdetermination. Let me talk about them in turn.
1) Time Travel
I’m quite sure I never even touched on Time Travel in my series. One reason was that none of the Matsumoto shows I’ve seen deal with it in a central way. Besides, it would complicate things. One should establish the nature of Time before one can intelligently approach the topic of travel on it, right?
Of course, Matsumoto is a storyteller, and he can introduce Time Travel whenever he wants to. While Time Travel isn’t central here either, Miraizer Ban is peppered with time travelers. In chapter 9 Kei Yuki makes a lovely case for appreciating the Earth as a Time Machine, simply because by looking at the stars from our vantage point we can see different stages of the past (the farther away the star the farther into the past we can see!). At the end of Volume 2, a time traveler from the future makes the point that in a deeper sense all of the Times in the universe coexist at the same Time. This is a neat way of explaining Time Travel, but I don’t know how on Earth you would represent that geometrically?!
But I think the threat that Time Travel brings is more basic than that: it taints the evidence. Any confluence or similarity of events might actually be caused, not by the fabric of Time, but by some sort of travel therein. For example, the fact that there are several similar yet different Harlocks in the Leijiverse might be due to this. Or the multiple deaths of Tochiroh.
2) Dimensional Travel
It is hinted throughout the manga that dimensional travel is possible. The one clear case of “sliding” relates to Zenpest: one of Miraizer Ban’s descendants who is bent on assassinating Miraizer. This is not fleshed out at all, but it’s there.
3) Sphere Size
As I explained in Part III of my series, Matsumoto posits the existence of Time Spheres, conglomerations of an infinity of Rings of Time all with the same size and the same center. I often thought of the possibility of changing the sizes of the Spheres, but I never wrote about it because it would make everything even more complicated than it already was.
Well, let me show you a picture I did based on the image shown in the next to the last page of Miraizer Ban (because of the software I’m using to read the manga, I can’t actually paste the original image, sorry!):
Not only are these Time Spheres different sizes, but they’re not even concentric!! The suggestion in the manga is that one can pass from one to the other, but the mechanics are of course left unexplained. The key point for the story is that apparently when one crosses from one Sphere to another, all notion of continuity is broken, so that even a Miraizer cannot predict what will happen. If this sounds complicated, it is. One result is that Part IV of my series, where I proposed that the center of each Sphere acted as some sort of Room of Gaf, is wrong. Evidently personality can persist through Rings/Spheres of differing centers.
It also means that potentially chronology issues like fitting in the Harlockverse and the Maetelverse might be solved through different sized Spheres, or maybe not. Who knows?
Leiji Matsumoto could have easily made a precise, knowable universe. Instead, the variety of elements and phenomena in the Leijiverse doom any unified theories to failure. Maybe that was his intention all along…